Battle of Gaza 1799 Bonaparte vs. Ahmed Jezzar

Something different from the normal Napoleonic game. Dan and WR elected to play a French expedition Syria vs. the forces of Ahmed Jezzar (Levant Ottomans) game featuring the Battle of Gaza 1799.

Game map, order of battle and notes: Gaza 1799 Scenario Notes (updated)

Initial deployment: Lannes’ Division with Murat’s cavalry crossing the Gaza wadi. Levant Ottomans deployed behind hills or in Gaza.

Game start set up. French in foreground (Gaza wadi), Levant Ottomans in background near Gaza town and behind low hill.

Gaza 1799 Game map. Black arrow shows French entrance point to table.

Lannes’ Division (foreground) and Murat’s cavalry (above) crossing Gaza wadi.

Levant Ottoman’s deployment notes: The Palestine Group (like a division) deployed around Gaza, the El Arish group deployed besides the small hill in right foreground, Aga of Jerusalem behind the hill ridge and the Mamelukes in support.

Levant Ottoman’s deployed around Gaza and behind the low hills. Mameluke cavalry at left.

Gaza defenders included some Nizam-i-Jedid european trained battalions (4).

Opening movements. The French cavalry under Murat advance towards the town of Gaza. Ottoman counter the French cavalry movement with their local provincial sipahis cavalry.

Turn 1 movements….both sides advance their cavalry. Lannes’ infantry hold back awaiting the arrival of Kleber’s Division and Bonaparte.

Cavalry charge and countercharge action…The French are victorious and the Levant Ottoman’s sipahis retire. WR’s French dromedaries proved to be decisive in the combats.

Swirling cavalry charges and sabres….plus camels!

Bonaparte Dan manuevers the French as the Mameluke cavalry approach his battered cavalry. Bonaparte arriving along the road in distance.

After the defeated local provincial sipahis retire, the Mamelukes join the fray.

Mamelukes charge home…cut up the French cavalry with sharp swords…then retire.

Levant Ottomans better cheer the arrival of Ahmed Jezzar. He was called “the Blucher” for a reason. The sole ottoman artillery battery arrives along with the zembuk camel artillery.

Zembuk camel artillery (swivel guns) and local Ottoman “battery” arrive with Ahmed Jazzar.

As Ahmed Jazzar arrives…the French Division of Kleber makes it’s appearance along the coastal road. Murat’s tattered cavalry welcomes the support. French infantry prepare to advance. Bonaparte directing the french movements besides the road.

Kleber’s Division arrives. The French infantry becomes active and advance. Bedouin tribesmen skirmish at the dunes edge. Zembuk’s have dismounted to fire their camel swivel guns.

Dismounted Zembuk action….camel swivel artillery engage the disordered French cavalry along with Bedouin sniping from the coastal dunes.

Zembuk camel guns with Bedouin tribesmen engage the tired and disordered French cavalry.

French advance with their infantry…. Levant Ottoman’s regroup or reposition to await the advancing French.

Lannes’ Division advances against the Aga of Jerusalem’s forces on hill.

French advance in their squares with artillery support. Lannes looks on.

Close up of Lannes’ infantry squares.

Seeing the french advance…Jezzar “the Blucher” orders his Egyptian spear infantry forward to bunt the french advance. Mameluke cavalry sees an opportunity to seize the french cannon.

Levant Ottoman’s surge forward against the French artillery which is causing losses.

While the former Egyptian garrison (sans their weapons) of El Arish assault the French columns, the Mamelukes attempt to charge home on the French artillery.

Wargamerabbit has been spotted while enjoying a miniature game. Photo taken while the action was brisk handling his Ottoman (Levant) forces.

Wargamerabbit himself enjoying the game.

Mamelukes fail to charge when the moment was theirs…..mill about under the French canister fire.

While the Mamelukes flubbed their charge, the French Division under Kleber is pushing forward on the coastal road. The bedouin tribe falls back…sniping at Frenchmen.

Kleber’s Division pushes back the Levant Ottoman’s right flank.

Both armies took a pause to reorder their battered formations. French prepare to assault the Gaza hills while their tattered cavalry ride to the right flank….they smell opportunity.

Overview of battle….note the French cavalry redeployed below the hill with Aga of Jerusalem (top of photo).

Bonaparte figures out that the Aga’s forces are poor quality infantry. Even with the tattered cavalry, the French cavalry charge causes massed panic in the Aga of Jerusalem’s ranks. Levant Ottoman infantry running for the distant hills as the French infantry and cavalry crest the ridge. WR caught muttering..“if you start with poor infantry….then you have poor infantry…what do you expect to happen”.

French charge…and discover the weakness of the Aga’s forces (poor morale)….they break and run from the charging French cavalry. French column crowns the hill to see them off.

With the Aga’s forces running…and running, Ahmed Jazzar retires from the field and marches north to Acre. Bonaparte will have another meeting with Ahmed Jezzer at the siege of Acre.

End of battle. The Levant Ottomans retire up the road to Acre…..and a siege.

Good resource for the campaign.

Historically, this wasn’t much of battle in 1799. French arrived, Ottomans saw them, and after a little action retired towards Gaza, then Acre. Napoleon’s bulletin on the “action” made out he “defeated a large enemy force” (10,000 infantry and 3-4,000 cavalry). So, WR made him “eat his own bulletin” and challenged Bonaparte.

Nice game Dan. Hopefully the Levant Ottomans gave you a little respect before you reach Acre. Till the next WR adventure…..maybe 1801 Alexandria.

A last photo showing my entire French dromedaries unit.

French Dromedaries

French roster: Gaza 1799 French Roster , Ottoman roster: Gaza 1799 Ottoman Roster

Some background on Jezzar Pasha link.

Napoleon in Egypt & Syria Armee d’Orient

Other period information on this campaign:

Siege of Jaffa 1799:  Siege of Jaffa 1799

Siege of Acre 1799: Siege of Acre 1799



8 thoughts on “Battle of Gaza 1799 Bonaparte vs. Ahmed Jezzar

  1. “Made him eat his own Bulletin”… priceless! Definitely a change of pace from Europe, and a great looking table. The French Dromedary Corps is definitely one of the coolest things about their time in Egypt and the Levant – along with the Balloon Corps they brought with them from France.

    The Dromedaries brought back a memory of perhaps my earliest exposure to something like out hobby. When I was about 8 years old and still living in NY state, my father and one of his friends took me and his son to the annual show of the New York Military Historical Society, held in NYC. No games but many spectacularly painted large scale military miniatures and vignettes, notable among them said Dromedary Corps. That and some live bagpipe music demonstrations courtesy of one the several pipe bands based in NY City. Great time, and I started in the hobby a few years later, circa 1967.


    • Peter,

      Thought up that phase “eat his own Bulletin” at dinner. Seemed to fit the situation. I have attached a photo of my entire Dromedary Corps (6 miniatures) on the blog post (at end). When Dixon issued those miniatures back in the early 90’s they were a “must have” along with the French for same campaign in Egypt.
      Who can pass up that “powder puff uniform colored” army?

      Glad to give you some fond memories for us “young” gamers (I started in ’69 with Avalon Hill’s Panzerblitz and miniatures in ’71 with Terrence Wise’s little gaming booklet (purchased from news stand train kiosk in London)

      Till next time….I need to read up your recent post “Neumarkt”. On first glance seems a lot like a game I played for a battle at Linz….just before the Ebelsberg bridge crossing battle. That game can from an old Courier Mag. article/game if my memory holds solid.

      Michael aka WR

  2. Michael:

    The full unit of Dromedaries look great!

    Linz, along with Landshut (“Mon Mouton es un Lion”) were the two additional actions I considered including in the 1809 scenario book, so I’ll look forward to a write up if/when you do one.


  3. Now that’s what I call a battle report. Great stuff and really enjoyed reading it. I’m taking mental notes of how it should be done. Looking forward to more like this in the new year.

    Merry Christmas Michael (WR) and all the chaps or lasses at your club. Hope you all have a good un.

    Cheers again,

    • Tim,

      Still working out the game reporting aspects. A work in progress for sure just like your 17th Legere band.
      Saw you post on the 17th Legere band project placed “on hold for the holidays. Was it the “yellow coats” causing you eye problems? So bright in the morning light.
      Look forward to seeing them completed in the new year. Time to rest the brushes and enjoy family and friends. So…Merry Christmas to all in your life and a future
      of miniature enjoyment to come.

      Michael aka WR

  4. Looked like a fun game. Always wanted to try this period but from the reading I have done it always seemed as though the French just marched around in division squares. I do like you camels w seem out guns. Where did you ever find those? Thanks for sharing the game.

    • Mike,

      I agree interesting period with a different style of engagements. Glad you liked my game AAR. For the camel artillery, I cannot remember how I received those models but I think they are Irregular miniatures…. or from a similar Persian miniature manufacturer.

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